United top of the tree after Ports win

Ballymena captain Allan Jenkins celebrates after scoring his team's second goal.  INBT34- UNITED 1  Picture by John McIlwaine/Presseye.com
Ballymena captain Allan Jenkins celebrates after scoring his team's second goal. INBT34- UNITED 1 Picture by John McIlwaine/Presseye.com

Glenn Ferguson was never one to let his emotions run riot – even in his glory days with Linfield.

But the Ballymena United manager dared to drop his guard, just ever so slightly, following his team’s impressive Danske Bank Premiership victory over Ronnie McFall’s Portadown at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

The Sky Blues this morning sit proudly at the top of the table, having answered all the questions asked of them in their opening three matches.

The opening day win over Warrenpoint was good. The midweek draw at Crusaders was great. The victory over Portadown was fabulous.

“Had we won five or six, it wouldn’t have flattered us,” beamed a satisfied Spike.

“I thought it was a great game and superb advertisement for the Irish League.

“I thought we were particularly good in the first half. We worked our socks off to get possession of the ball and, when we had it, we worked it well on good areas.

“Stephen McBride and Ally Teggart were particularly good down the left. Yes, it was a great all round performance.”

New signing form Linfield, Kyle McVey headed the home team into the lead, finishing off a Neal Gawley corner kick.

The Sky Blues then should have been out of sight, only for the heroics of goalkeeper David Miskelly, who prevented what appeared to be certain goals from Matty Tipton and Teggart.

Against the run of play, McFall’s team levelled in the second half when Robert Garrett, also a summer recruit from Linfield, latched on to a ball in midfield before drilling a beauty beyond Dwayne Nelson.

But the ragged Ports were again undone seconds later when big Ballymena skipper Allan Jenkins led by example, bursting through a leaky defence to plant the ball in the bottom corner.

Substitute Darren Boyce, who replaced the impressive David Cushley for the last 10minutes, wrapped it up with a clinical finish following a 20 yard solo dash.

Portadown grabbed a late consolation when Mark McAllister’s cross was rather harshly adjudged to have been handled by Michael Ruddy by referee Tim Marshall and striker Darren Murray opened his goal account for the season.

“We’re unbeaten in three games, but we’ll not become carried away,” added Ferguson.

“Our big problem last season was consistency, so we must work at that.

“We’ve worked hard since pre-season, getting a good shape into the team.

“We’ve had to change our shape and some players had to get fitter than they were last year.

“It has paid off for them so far. There will be other big tests to come, but we’ll treat them in the same manner as our opening three matches.”

Ballymena United: Nelson, McCullagh, McBride, Taggart, Taylor, McVey (Munster 52), Gawley, Teggart, (Ruddy 82), Tipton, Jenkins, Cushley (Boyce 80). Subs not used: Surgenor, Harris.

Portadown: Miskelly, Casement, Redman, Ramsey (P McMahon 76), Lyttle, Breen, Mackle, Garrett, Murray, Twigg, McAllister.

Subs not used: Brennan, M McMahon, Friars, Soares. Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown).